Have you ever cycled through a wide range of emotions and assumed it was a small case of mood swings? That’s certainly possible, but another explanation may be bipolar affective disorder (BPAD), a type of mood disorder that cycles between extreme depression and elevated mania for extended periods of time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.6 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18. Bipolar disorder involves the cycling between mania and depression over weeks to months. Symptoms of mania might be decreased need for sleep (or lack of sleep), more energy, fast-paced talking, and more productivity. In some cases, it may lead to reckless behaviors that can result in consequences such as jail time. Signs of depression may include feelings of despair, sadness, hopelessness, a lack of energy, and changes in sleep cycle and appetite.
There are three main types of bipolar disorder that range from severe to mild.
“The three types are Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, and Cyclothymic disorder,” says Austin Prince, psychiatric resident at Centerstone.
Bipolar 1 is the most severe type, with larger shifts between mania and depression. A manic episode lasts from a couple of weeks to months. After that, the person shifts, slowly or quickly, to a deep depressive episode for a couple of months.
Bipolar 2 is similar to Bipolar 1 with huge shifts in mood, but the symptoms of mania are less severe, while the symptoms of depression are just as severe as they are in Bipolar 1.
Cyclothymic disorder is the least severe type of BPAD, where the highs and lows are both less severe.
“In comparing all of the types of BPAD, cyclothymic is often missed because people often assume their mood swings are a feature of their personality,” says Dr. Prince.
Here are several ways to help individuals experiencing BPAD:
Those who experience bipolar disorder might have challenges, but there are many options available to help them succeed and for community members to support them along the way.
If you or someone you know is experiencing low mood or struggling with their mental health, Centerstone can help. Call 1-877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) for more information.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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